Neurosurgery for Psychopaths? An Ethical Analysis

American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 7 (3):140-149 (2016)
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Recent developments in neuroscience have inspired proposals to perform deep brain stimulation on psychopathic detainees. We contend that these proposals cannot meet important ethical requirements that hold for both medical research and therapy. After providing a rough overview of key aspects of psychopathy and the prospects of tackling this condition via deep brain stimulation, we proceed to an ethical assessment of such measures, referring closely to the distinctive features of psychopathic personality, particularly the absence of subjective suffering and a lack of moral motivation. Scrutiny of these factors reveals that two essential bioethical criteria, individual medical benefit and voluntary informed consent, cannot be met in performing neurosurgical experiments or treatments on psychopathic inmates.

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Author Profiles

Dietmar Hübner
Universität Hannover
Lucie White
Utrecht University

References found in this work

Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
The Theory and Practice of Autonomy.Gerald Dworkin - 1988 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry Frankfurt - 2004 - In Tim Crane & Katalin Farkas (eds.), Metaphysics: a guide and anthology. Oxford University Press UK.
Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry Frankfurt - 1982 - In Gary Watson (ed.), Free will. New York: Oxford University Press.
The nature of suffering and the goals of medicine.Eric J. Cassell - 1991 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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